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South African startup unpacks journey on AWS cloud

September 14, 2019 • Features, Southern Africa, Startups, Top Stories

Founder of iHouzit, Roana Mouton.

iHouzit is a South African startup founded in 2016 that offers tailored solutions by providing a platform where customers are able to plan, design, finance, insure, build, furnish, decorate and maintain properties.

iHouzit launched its first minimum viable product, www.iHouzit.com, on 7 March 2019.

In a bid to address the disconnect between sellers and buyers in the construction and retail industries doing business in local and linear ways, iHouzit finds the right products and services for homes and non-residential buildings. They operate a multi-sided market network between third-party suppliers, households and real estate managers.

In order to offer suppliers and customers a scalable platform, the iHouzit Domain name is registered and managed by Amazon Route 53.

The startup is powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) to achieve all its services from its digital platform. Through solutions such as the Activate Program which provides the startup with the low cost, easy to use infrastructure and business support needed to scale and grow; Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance; as well as Amazon CloudFront, a fast content delivery network (CDN) service that delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to customers globally with low latency, high transfer speeds.

IT News Africa caught up with iHouzit founder, Roana Mou who shared how AWS has become the foundation of the platform.

1. What sort of solutions does iHouzit provide?

We help people to source the right products and trusted services for their properties by operating the iHouzit multi-sided marketplace. We are currently selling a wide range of furniture, décor items and kitchenware on a B2C E-Commerce solution. iHouzit has a scalable and secure solution built on AWS with the rapid deployment of third-party applications.

2. How has AWS become the foundation of the platform?

I have previously worked at Barclays Africa / Absa as an Enterprise Architect, managing architecture enablement and governance. During this time, I have attended the AWS introduction sessions, cloud workshops, met with members of the AWS team, visited the Cape Town Office. The decision to use the AWS platform and wide range of products for iHouzit was very easy and natural due to much research, a long-time of engagement and we were further encouraged by the soon to launch AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region,

3. How does Activate Program help iHouzit?

We have access via the AWS Activate Startup programme to superior business support, training and platform usage credits. This is a massive boost to our startup to stay in business and continuously build out our business offering. iHouzit is a recent member, with access to Credits, 24/7 Business Support and Training. Membership opened a world full of AWS knowledge, access to cloud engineers and Solutions Architects, credits to our monthly bill and some free hours to training.

4. How has AWS impacted the company?

We were able to launch our first minimum viable product with rapid deployment on AWS. Our focus could then shift to build out our business model. We have on-boarded multiple suppliers with a wide range of products to save our customers both time and money on a stable platform that scale with us.

It was terrific to attend the Amazon Pop-Up Loft, held in March in Johannesburg. We have gained much insight and knowledge about the AWS service offering and fostered valuable relationships. From a consultation held with an AWS Solutions Architect, we had a new direction in streamlining our technology solution to improve our site’s response times to our customers. We are currently experiencing excellent business support with our current implementation of Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront.

5. Does the company look to expand into the rest of Africa?

Yes. Everybody needs a home. Our vision is Pan-African, our expansion plans are dependent on multiple factors such as capital, maturity and timing. We have no doubt that AWS will be there to help us scale as we grow.

6. What are your future plans for the company?

To continuously build and operate an African market network for suppliers, households and real estate managers to plan, design, finance, insure, build, furnish, decorate and maintain their homes and buildings.

We will make use of the AWS Personalization, Big Data, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Distributed Ledger capabilities to build out the African iHouzit market network

By Fundisiwe Maseko
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